Moraine Valley Community College will direct $33,600 in Career and Technical Education (CTE) Improvement Grant funds from the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) toward its Fire Academy.

The college is using the funds to subsidize the rental cost of firefighting gear to help more students afford training in the Fire Academy. The cost for gear and subsequent internship can cost up to $900 per student. This is the second grant the program has received for these purposes.

“The students who are accepted into the Fire Academy will no longer need to use their own money to rent the required protective clothing. This should allow students with financial barriers to enroll in the program. We also are hoping to help bring more diversity in our programs,” said Andy Hufnagl, coordinator of Fire Science and Emergency Medical Services.

Statewide, 21 community colleges received nearly $1.7 million in CTE Improvement Grant funds in 2020. Recipients can use the funds in one of three ways: to enhance student transitions, provide student-centered support services or strengthen the CTE educator pipeline. The grant is funded through the federal Strengthening CTE for the 21st Century Act.

As many Illinoisans struggle with COVID-19 related job loss, community college CTE programs provide an avenue to high-skill, in-demand jobs across a number of career fields.

“This funding will support student success in high-need industries, including information technology and education,” said Dr. Brian Durham, executive director of the ICCB. “The grants allow colleges to make a significant investment in advising, coaching, and mentoring CTE faculty and students, at a time when the need for a connection between teachers and students is paramount.”